The cheese-plant watched impassively
as they wheeled in the caseloads of blips.
The things that plant has witnessed
in that waiting area – gee whizz –
it’s enough to bury us all.
The secret shoppers
We infiltrate your aisles without warning.
We operate under the radar of 24 hour CCTV.
We’re the Stasi of the sale floor,
biding our time inside a pyramid of tinned soup.
We’re the ninjas of the knicker section
stretch-testing your elastic so you don’t have to.
We’re the ones who find
the unzippable zips, the single misplaced stitch.
We’re the ones who’ll never rest
until every wayward trolley is pulled back into line.
By the time we make it to the nightclub district
I’m still alone on the bus. Inside my head
the punchline of Skipper’s daily dirty joke
is trying to replay itself –
there’s something about an ageing pornstar
poised to topple from the firmament.
I look at the clock on the Xerox Tower
and the algal-green tracksuits
of the Sevenoaks septuagenarian walking society
emerge from the mouth of the underpass
to start their laps of the tennis courts.
I watch for a moment,
willing them on to a big finish,
until Skipper closes the door
and backs us out of the stop.
He turns in the forecourt,
making sure not to entangle us in leftover bunting,
and, as the radio hooks back into a readable signal,
I catch a sudden perfect glimpse of the woman
who feeds the animals
that come in from the plains at dawn.
Mark Ryan Smith lives in Shetland.